I enjoyed Philip Yancy’s book titled “Where is God When it Hurts?” There is actually a sequel to this book titled “The Question that Never Goes Away.” Of course the question that he is talking about is the subject of the first book.
I read this second book with great interest because he spends a few chapters dealing with the Newton, CT shootings which occurred in my home state. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the second book:
“Affliction is the best book in my library” – Martin Luther
Why do we continue to think that good and evil, pain and pleasure are doled out according to our merit, when the Book of Job teaches just the opposite?
I kept thinking of the verse in First John: ‘the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.’
The wealth of lament and protest in the Old Testament makes clear that we cannot count on God to intercede directly in human history, no matter how monstrous the injustice.
“I will fear no evil, for you are with me. . . .” God has come close. Those few words, “you are with me,” reveal the one thing we can count on in calamitous times.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us,” wrote John in the prologue to his Gospel. In the face of suffering, words do not suffice. We need something more: the Word made flesh, actual living proof that God has not abandoned us. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it, “Only a suffering God can help.”
The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.
From Jesus I learn that God is on the side of the sufferer. God entered the drama of human history as one of its characters, not with a display of omnipotence but in a most intimate and vulnerable way.
We go through suffering not alone, but with God at our side.
Christ’s suffering shatters the iron walls around individual human suffering,
God can make good use of suffering itself: “There is no pain, no suffering, no frustration, no disappointment that cannot be cured or taken up and used for higher ends.”
Jesus said he could have called on legions of angels to prevent the crucifixion. He did not. The redemptive way goes through pain, not around it.
To redeem a planet, Someone must die.
This is not the worst thing to ever happen! Cancer is so limited. It cannot cripple love, shatter hope, corrode faith, eat away peace, destroy confidence, kill friendship, shut out memories, silence courage, quench the Spirit or lessen the power of Jesus.
May God’s love spill out into your lives in unexpected ways
Life is on loan, and will return to the Lender.
Jesus did not eliminate evil; he revealed a God willing, at immense cost, to forgive it and to heal its damage.
Where is God when it hurts? God is now in the church, God’s delegated presence on earth.
One commentator worried that Newtown had forever “spoiled” Christmas, as Virginia Tech and Columbine had spoiled Easter. Perhaps—but only if you celebrate them merely as holidays rather than as real events.
Christianity doesn’t in any way lessen suffering. What it does is enable you to take it, to face it, to work through it, and eventually to convert it.
From Jesus I learn that God is on the side of the sufferer. God entered the drama of human history as one of its characters, not with a display of omnipotence but in a most intimate and vulnerable way
And my favorite quote from the book, when Philip Yancy was asked by a mother – “Will God protect my child”:
“No, I’m sorry, I can’t promise that.” None of us are exempt. We all die, some old, some tragically young. God provides support and solidarity, yes, but not protection—at least not the kind of protection we desperately long for. On this cursed planet, even God suffered the loss of a Son.”
If interested, you can get both books on Amazon in either paperback or E-Book formats. Here are the links:
Where is God When it Hurts:
The Question that Never Goes Away:
My book, “Lifestyle Worship”:
In a recent bible class we studied the concept of “Mystic Union”, a topic that I found to be most interesting and useful.
The passage that first appealed to me was Mt 10:19b-20 that states:
At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
To me, this passage instills confidence, especially when I stand in front of the church and give a children’s message. Imagine, the Spirit of the Father is speaking through me!” The same of course also holds true for our Sunday school teachers and really anytime that you as a believer confess and speak your faith.
Another verse that reinforces this idea is Romans 8:9-11:
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
And how about this beauty right from the mouth of Jesus:
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” – John 14:23
And here is Jesus praying for all believers, which of course includes you:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. – John 17:20-23
But it’s not only Jesus praying for you. Here is Paul as well:
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. – Ephesians 3:16-17
So here’s our role in this mystic union:
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:4-5
United we stand:
But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. – 1 Corinthians 6:17
Did you catch all those spiritual gems?
- You, dear reader, are in the realm of the Spirit
- The Spirit of God lives in you
- The Spirit of the Father speaks through you
- Christ is in you
- You are in Jesus
- Jesus and the Father have made their home with you
- You are strengthened by the Spirit within you
- Christ dwells in your heart through faith
- You are one with Jesus in spirit
- Christ lives in you
Our Pastor’s closing remarks on this subject:
So when you share in the divine nature, you…
- Are bonded with God
- Have regained a part of His holy image
- Love what He loves
- Hate what He hates
- Share in His work
- Approve of His judgements
Honestly I sat in wonder as I absorbed all of this in bible class. I pray that these scriptures have been uplifting and enlightening to you as well my dear brothers and sisters who are one with Christ, one with the Father and one with the Spirit who all reside in you in a mystical union.